21 May Sexual Harassment is an Equal Pay Issue
My name is Maureen Francis (formerly Vallot Greene) and I’m from Louisiana. I’ve been repeatedly sexually harassed on job, twice in a row, and fired in retaliation for standing up for myself. This has created economic instability for my family, as the sole financial provider for the past two decades, and has left me emotionally devastated.
In the first job where I was sexually harassed by my boss, I had previously won two awards for outstanding work performance. Yet after I reported my boss’ illegal behavior, I was fired for “poor work performance”. After that I also was sexually harassed at college, which was the second sexual harassment I have experienced in which I was violated.
As someone with two degrees in criminal justice, I was appalled at how my court cases involving sexual harassment were handled. Rather then getting the justice I deserved, I’ve been labeled a troublemaker and accused of misusing the legal system, which resulted in me being sanctioned and banned from the courts, while my harassers got off scot free. After all these years, the false allegations are still displayed on the internet for anyone to access; damaging my name, character and credibility, which prevents me from gaining or keeping a job.
Sexual harassment is an equal pay issue. Most harassers are men and most employees who get harassed are women. Because the legal system fails to protect us, women often leave or get pushed out of jobs when they’re harassed. We have periods without any income, and in a town like mine, we struggle to find more work. Over the course of our lives, we earn less and can’t save for retirement, because of the illegal treatment we’ve faced. For me, the economic repercussions have included difficulty supporting my family, bankruptcy, and periods of homelessness – while I’ve watched my harassers and the people who defend them climb to greater levels of power and prestige.
This month marks 22 years since the first time I was retaliated against for fighting back against sexual harassment–and I’m still fighting! I am trying to get my cases reopened through the New Orleans or Washington DC EEOC, the Department of Justice and the local District Attorney’s office. Women before me paved the way for me to be able to advocate for myself, and I want to pave the way for others, so no one else has to go through what I’ve been through. Over the years, 9to5 has been a tremendous resource and support for me. I will continue to support and be a member of 9to5. I encourage others to do the same.